From the moment they crashed into our world proclaiming themselves to be “the new Metallica”, Trivium have unabashedly pursued stadium-sized ambitions. Sure, it must be frustrating for them to see the likes of Avenged Sevenfold packing out huge venues round the corner, but an almost sold-out show at this iconic and beautiful London venue is certainly nothing to sniff at.
Bounding on stage first, pent-up and ready to do battle, SHVPES  and their swaggering opener False Teeth are met initially with indifference and crossed arms. However, when frontman Griff Dickinson tells a heckling punter exactly where he can shove his negativity, the room breaks into cheers that only get louder when he proceeds to chop off his ponytail with a knife (metal!!) in the name of charity. By the end of their set, it’s clear that the Birmingham band’s amalgamation of spitfire rapping, nu metal that still manages to sound bang- up-to-date and While She Sleeps-esque chants have won over plenty of hearts and minds.
Even without guitarist Pin in the ranks tonight, you sensethe evening’s main support will get the job done; SIKTH  have long proven you can throw anything at them and they’ll come back stronger. While Justin Hill’s departure from the band last year was a shock, no one should have been surprised when Aliases’ Joe Rosser proved himself to be an excellent replacement. There aren’t many vocalists who could ease themselves so symbiotically into a deranged vocal back-and-forth with co-vocalist Mikee Goodman. Joe’s harmonic crescendos prove the perfect foil for Mikee’s insane babbling, scat attacks and all-round, mind-boggling intensity as the rabid hooks and lawless, technical chaos of Philistine Philosophies and Flogging The Horses spiral around them. When Mikee asks the crowd with a demonic chuckle if they’d like to hear a spoken-word monologue, nothing can prepare the uninitiated for When Will The Forest Speak…?, which sounds like an imaginary headfuck of a conversation between Gollum’s split personalities and a bunch of demons squabbling in the shadowy depths of the underworld.
Half an hour later, two huge ‘Ibaraki’ skulls – TRIVIUM’s  new white, horned mascot – have risen above the stage, their eyes glinting malevolently as the band explode into Rain. Twelve years ago, when Trivium released Ascendency to an unsuspecting world, it proved to be a breakthrough so accomplished that the Floridians were heralded as metal’s next saviours. The band might not be spoken about in the same lofty terms these days, but they have always exuded the kind of unshakeable confidence that comes with a lifetime of talent. Trivium followed their own path, irrespective of whatever trends are blowing through the contemporary metal scene, and when the stars align and they truly fancy it, and you suspect a 10-ton truck couldn’t knock them off their stride.
Tonight they offer a career-spanning set and the crowd go promptly nuts for the gleaming hooks of Forsake Not The Dream, followed by razor-sharp melody on Down From The Sky as well as an all-out, blazing shred-fest on The Deceived. They also show off tracks from 2015’s Silence In The Snow – an album that’s divided fans between those who consider it a misstep, and others who have hailed it as their most anthemic, classic-leaning album yet. Rise Above The Tides’ central, reverberating riff is fed by Corey Beaulieu’s radiant, melodic leads and Silence In The Snow combines groove and staccato riffs to epic effect.
By now, guitarist Corey Beaulieu and frontman Matt Heafy are a well-tuned, double-lead attacking machine, the former a blur of windmilling hair, the latter relishing in guttural barks that strike deep amidst a maelstrom of devastating riffs. Trivium have long incorporated clean singing into their material, but it’s still startling to be reminded just what an exceptional vocalist Matt has become. He carries the melodic core of Strife to a blazing, infernal apex and effortlessly scales vertiginous heights on Until The World Goes Cold and while Entrance Of The Conflagration still sounds like a Master Of Puppets outtake, Matt no longer sounds like he’s busting out the Hetfield impressions on the karaoke when he sings it.
Of course this is all symptomatic of Trivium’s super-driven need for perfectionism. At this point the band are such a tight, über-professional unit that they simply don’t make mistakes anymore. But saying that, this is anything but an over-rehearsed or clinical performance. Bassist Paolo Gregoletto barely stops grinning from ear to ear all night and at one point Matt leaves his microphone to warn a security guard of an imminent crowd surfer he hasn’t noticed. This is a band who truly care about their fans – later they stay until stupid o’clock signing autographs and taking selfies – and who have never forgotten it was the UK who first truly embraced Trivium. When Matt gives the crowd heartfelt thanks and says that they really feel like a British band, you believe every last word. As the set ends with a monstrous Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr followed by an epic In Waves, there isn’t one person in the room not headbanging and screaming every last word. Trivium have made it clear they’re still one of metal’s biggest players and capable of knocking it out of the park anytime they damn well please.